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Wild Edible Plants - A guide to safe gathering and usage

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posted on Apr, 13 2011 @ 11:29 AM

Originally posted by CosmicEgg
Plants are more dynamic than simply for food. When you study them, study all about them. They are amazing. I would never throw out any plant. It can always be used for something. Find out about it and utilize it. Nature does not appreciate waste.

Well said!

edit on 13-4-2011 by Asktheanimals because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 13 2011 @ 11:39 AM

Originally posted by Asktheanimals

Originally posted by chiefsmom
Are you going to cover Queen Ann's Lace? That is a great plant, not only for the root, but for the seeds! For women anyway, according to my grandmother.

No, I'm not for the reason that the flowers are arranged in an Umbel, very similar to some very poisonous plants that have the same flower arrangement.

Wild Carrot is a great wild edible but too close in appearance to poison Hemlock - thus not a good plant for beginners.

Queen Ann's Lace is Wild Carrot(for those of you who do not already know
) and it's easily distinguishable from poison Hemlock if you know what you are doing. Not recommended for beginners however I agree.

Not to mention that you should be able to positively identify poison hemlock and water hemlock before you harvest as even if the plant is in the vicinity of another plant you are harvesting for consumption, the poison can leach through the ground into the seemingly safe plant you are harvesting.

Plantain is found ALL over everywhere you probably step on it daily . It's helpful for bronchial infections and pneumonia as well as wonderful plant for stings and wounds.It's drawing power is also helpful for abbesses around teeth and other tooth infections. Dandelion root is used for different reasons than the leaf. The leaf is used primarily for nutritional reasons and root for liver function.

The wonderful world of herbs !
edit on 13-4-2011 by Survial10 because: additional info added

posted on Apr, 13 2011 @ 11:59 AM
One of the best books I have found for the beginning wildcrafter is "Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West" by Gregory L. Tilford.
Most of the plants in that book are very common, not just in the west.
It also has excellent photographs that are vital for proper identification, which, for the novice, I find lacking in nearly all other field guides, unfortunately.
It also has a detailed section on Toxic plants, as well.
It details each plants traditional history, habitat and range, edibility, medicinal uses, what parts are used for what purposes, as well as preparation techniques.
I cannot recommend this particular book highly enough to anyone that seriously wants to learn about the usefulness of the wild pantry/pharmacopia that is all around us.
Edited to add: link to Amazon reviews:
edit on 13-4-2011 by Elostone because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 13 2011 @ 12:19 PM
Great info and links. Thanks!

posted on Apr, 13 2011 @ 12:44 PM
reply to post by Elostone

Thanks Elostone!
I may have to get a copy of that even though I will never go west of the Mississippi again due to health issues.

Pictures are nice but to really ID a plant thoroughly you need to compare much more than just overall appearances.
The flower structure, the number of petals or lack thereof, arrangement and shape of leaves, how they attach to the stem, etc etc.
You will only determine these factors by close examination of the plant and the text describing it.
In other words it could be dangerous to rely only on pictures to identify a plant.
There are a great many plant look-alikes for instance Wild Carrot and Poison Hemlock.
Check out pictures of both to see for yourself.

posted on Apr, 13 2011 @ 04:40 PM
reply to post by connorromanow

speaking of Indain paint brush
SELENIUM it turns out is one critical element to health
and one of the PRIME anti RADIATION suppliments.

The flowers of Indian paintbrush are edible and sweet, and were consumed in moderation by various Native American tribes as a condiment with other fresh greens. These plants have a tendency to absorb and concentrate selenium in their tissues from the soils in which they grow, and can be potentially very toxic if the roots or green parts of the plant are consumed. Highly alkaline soils increase the selenium levels in the plants. Indian paintbrush has similar health benefits to consuming garlic if only the flowers are eaten in small amounts and in moderation.[3]

Selenium has been painted, like vitamin D to be toxic
to PREVENT health.
So as you can see
learning in this topic may be more important then most realize
NOTE: the similar to garlic part

Authors: James A Duke Phd
He dah Man

edit on 13-4-2011 by Danbones because: (no reason given)

edit on 13-4-2011 by Danbones because: (no reason given)

edit on 13-4-2011 by Danbones because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 13 2011 @ 05:13 PM
Finally, I would be remiss without discussing mushrooms. After more research I learned that they have vitamin B, selenium, copper and potassium though they are otherwise short on nutritional value.
I would NOT recommend anyone trying wild mushrooms - the odds of misidentifying them are quite high. Far too many species are deadly poisonous and it is said that death by mushroom poisoning is one of the most painful ways there is to die.
Put simply, they are NOT WORTH THE RISK!

^^^^^^ This is important advice. I had a very good friend of mine die from eating a UK fungi that caused total and untreatable organ failure. I told her time and time again not to pick small immature fungi because of the risk, but she loved her little button mushrooms cut up on her toast.

The dreadful thing was that one of the symptoms is that the victim appears for 24hrs to get better and symptoms die down, only to reappear and lead to death.

My wild foods instructor / bushcraft tutor made me memorise five unmistakable edible fungi and just said 'leave everything else well alone'. Even then I'd say that of that five i'd utilise three.

posted on Apr, 13 2011 @ 06:42 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

I am very familiar with many plants in the Umbelliferae family; Osha and Angelica, which are both toxic if unwittingly ingested, but useful in the hands of a trained herbalist; as well as Yarrow and Sweetroot, which have many helpful uses!


Yarrow ee-de-grace-amiens_80_22062007_1.jpg


and to show the similarities in appearance to the most poisonous plant in North America, here it is:
Western Water Hemlock

But even today, I am VERY careful when dealing with all members of the Parsley family , as many of them have a similar appearance, and some are highly poisonous.

When I was just beginning to learn about plants, good pictures were very helpful to me in identifying many of the plants in my area. But it was not until I started studying Botanical Taxonomy that I felt in any way comfortable eating ANYTHING! And in retrospect, that is a good thing.

I applaud your efforts to bring better understanding to those interested in the usefulness of the plants around us.

The knowledge gained may very likely save lives.

posted on Apr, 13 2011 @ 08:48 PM
Yarrow is one of the best replacements for antibiotics I have found.
especially when combined with
goldenseal, euchenacea, elderberry, and licorice root
edit on 13-4-2011 by Danbones because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 14 2011 @ 08:05 AM
Some very good info there guys, thank you!

AstrO- Very, very sorry to hear of your friend's tragic mistake.
Let's hope that others heed your advice and perhaps some good will come of it.

Danbones - Yes, Yarrow is a wonderful plant, but unfortunately too close in appearance to some other very deadly plants when young. It is antiseptic and an excellent styptic (stops blood flow) - handy for cuts, bloody noses etc. It also seems to work as a catalyst when mixed with other plants. I don't know what the mechanism is but it does seem to really help. I got blocked up during one survival outing from eating too many chipmunks
and the instructor made a tea of yarrow and barberry root that cleared me out gently.
Interesting info on Indian paintbrush - I remember it growing all over Oklahoma, well that and roadkill armadillos everywhere.
Nearly all good medicinal plants are toxic in some degree, that is why anyone should study them intensely before attempting to use.
Dr. Duke is the man, his book The Green Pharmacy is fantastic and highly recommended for anyone interested in medicinal plants.
It bears mentioning that Elderberry is a poisonous plant and only the ripe fruit are edible. Not terribly toxic but used wisely is a valuable medicine.
I gotta say how much I love your Avatar Dan. Those colors don't run unless they're chasing Yankees.

Elostone -Thank you for your contributions! The parsley family is one of the most interesting and diverse plant families. When we start talking about Taxonomy I fear some people think " oh, no! I made D's in biology - I'm outta here!" It certainly seems to scare some folks anyway. You sound very competent, did you study botany in school or just for fun?
We could definitely use some exclusively western plants on this thread. Any common edibles out that way everyone should know about?
Thanks again for your contributions and kind comments. I have been pleasantly surprised at the responses to the thread, I'm glad some folks are really interested.

posted on Apr, 14 2011 @ 12:51 PM
Here is one that I am currently researching after being mentioned to me by a friend here on ATS. Its called "Heal All" (Prunella Vulgaris). It is in the mint family and a fairly common lawn weed apparently. I've really only started my research on this, but it just seems too good to be true. Anyone out there have any practical real world experience with this weed or feelings on it one way or the other?

Other Names: Prunella, All-Heal, Hook-Heal, Self Heal, Slough-Heal, Brunella, Heart of the Earth, Blue Curls, Carpenter-weed, Common Selfheal, Consolida Minor, Lance Selfheal, Sicklewort, Woundwort, Xia Ku Cao

Heal-All is edible and medicinal, can be used in salads, soups, stews, or boiled as a pot herb. Used as an alternative medicine for centuries on just about every continent in the world, and for just about every ailment known to man, Heal-All is something of a panacea, it does seem to have some medicinal uses that are constant. The plants most useful constituents are Betulinic-acid, D-Camphor, Delphinidin, Hyperoside, Manganese, Oleanolic-acid, Rosmarinic-acid, Rutin, Ursolic-acid, and Tannins. The whole plant is medicinal as alterative, antibacterial, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, stomachic, styptic, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary. A cold water infusion of the freshly chopped or dried and powdered leaves is a very tasty and refreshing beverage, weak infusion of the plant is an excellent medicinal eye wash for sties and pinkeye. It is taken internally as a medicinal tea in the treatment of fevers, diarrhoea, sore mouth and throat, internal bleeding, and weaknesses of the liver and heart. Clinical analysis shows it to have an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of pseudomonas, Bacillus typhi, E. coli, Mycobacterium tuberculi, which supports its use as an alternative medicine internally and externally as an antibiotic and for hard to heal wounds and diseases. It is showing promise in research for cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and many other maladies.


posted on Apr, 14 2011 @ 01:51 PM
reply to post by MyMindIsMyOwn

Great find!
I've known heal-all for some time. I've made tea with it but had never used it medicinally'
It's very common here in Virginia, seems to like lush, shady lawns.
There's a look alike plant to be aware of, not that it's dangerous:
Ajuga reptans or Bugle, it grows all over my yard anyway but I have no heal all here.

Herbalists have also traditionally used remedies made from the bugle to stop internal bleeding in the lungs as well as to stanch other kinds of internal hemorrhaging in other parts of the body. In addition, remedies made from the bugle has been recommended for treating problems such as persistent coughs, in treating ulcers, in the treatment of rheumatism, and to treat all kinds of liver disorders. Bugle has also been used to prevent hallucinations following the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol. Bugle is also seen by some herbalists as possessing mildly narcotic and sedative effects and its use is believed to possibly have a lowering effect on the heart rate similar to the action of the digitalis plant. At the same time, all the properties of the bugle other than the ability to heal wounds has not been thoroughly studied or researched in a clinical setting.

Sounds very similar yet I don't believe the 2 plants are related.
Good work, thank you!

posted on Apr, 15 2011 @ 04:42 AM
reply to post by MyMindIsMyOwn

I found a really clear video of Prunella Vulgaris that should help identify it.

Google Video Link

This is one I definitely want to have growing in my yard this summer so I guess I'll be off on some field trips until I find some to dig up.
edit on 4/15/2011 by wayno because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 31 2011 @ 01:16 PM

Originally posted by Survial10

Originally posted by Asktheanimals

Originally posted by chiefsmom

Plantain is found ALL over everywhere you probably step on it daily . It's helpful for bronchial infections and pneumonia as well as wonderful plant for stings and wounds.It's drawing power is also helpful for abbesses around teeth and other tooth infections. Dandelion root is used for different reasons than the leaf. The leaf is used primarily for nutritional reasons and root for liver function.

The wonderful world of herbs ![
Thank you so much for posting this. My child is prone to pneumonia and I have often worried "what if SHTF" what would I do? I need to study this plant and figure out where to locate it. There is so much I need to learn.

edit on 31-8-2011 by AuntB because: (no reason given)

edit on 31-8-2011 by AuntB because: My post is in the quote.

posted on Nov, 16 2011 @ 03:56 PM
I just followed your link to read this-excellent, excellent advice OP!! Your opening post is dead on.

I really appreciate that you're mentioning that some plants resemble toxic plants and are better left alone unless you have vast experience in identifying them. The female poster who asked about Queens Lace was correct in saying it was valuable for women but it looks and even grows to close to poison hemlock. Not worth the risk unless a trained guide shows the plant to you.

So much great information here, I am sorry I missed out on the original discussion but maybe I can revive it.


posted on Nov, 16 2011 @ 04:14 PM
I also wanted to say that it is very unwise to to use any wild plants as medicine until you have studied herbalism for a year. There are various methods used to prepare a plant for medicinal use. Some nourish, others tone and the strongest stimulate. For beginners I recommend making medicine with nourishing herbs. They are never toxic and are quite fun to prepare. Be safe!

posted on Mar, 7 2012 @ 02:58 AM
Beautiful thread! Insanely useful information for humankind. Bless you, S+F!!

I have been interested in edible foragables ever since I got into backcountry camping. My cousin was my first major influence in this, and was a eagle scout and has a forestry degree. He would show me things like the natural high mountain strawberries, wild blueberries/huckleberries, edible mountain lilies (pretty purple too!) and nettles.

We once ran across a huge patch of morel mushrooms, we picked most and made them into a great post hike snack. ATA, I know your stance on mushrooms, and I'll agree you have to approach them with CAUTION: Know what you are picking and eating . I am comfortable with my local mushrooms but I have done enough research, and only mess with species that don't have lookalikes (also helps to know how to take a sporeprint).

My contributions to this thread will be as researched as possible with safe handling procedures.

For anyone living in the NW USA, there is an abundant local edible most don't know is edible: Fiddlehead ferns. These grow in our wet, rainforest areas, and almost anywhere else wet enough and some amount of sun. You see them sprout in spring, and they have the telltale violin head curled shoots. You pick them before the fern leaves start poking out of the "fiddlehead". CAUTION These are mildly toxic, but the Koreans have known this for a long time, and have a technique. You boil a large pot of lightly salted water, and blanch the fern tops for several minutes until you see the water turn reddish (I know, from a green plant, it's weird), then remove them and place them in a bowl of cold water, let them sit and discard this water too. You are ready to use them for cooking (Korean soup called Yook Kai Jang is a wonderful spicy soup that uses these, I will post that recipe soon). They are very tasty, and they have a unique texture similar to mushrooms. Many farmer's markets have disturbingly started selling them raw as "foraged greens" and don't warn about the small toxicity (yet they act like they know when I ask).

I'll add more when I can, again, GREAT thread idea

posted on Mar, 7 2012 @ 04:21 AM
my faves 'weeds' to cook up and eat by the potful as free "wild spinach"

redroot & white pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus & albus/palmeri)

lambs quarters (Chenopodium album) related to quinoa??

i never checked if they have any toxicity but i've eaten bowls of this stuffs every summer n fall for a decade now

posted on Mar, 7 2012 @ 04:55 AM
reply to post by Aliquandro

Speaking of morels, that seasons is almost upon us

Here is a thread with some pics and info on them. Mouth watering

Morel mushrooms

Nice thread OP ill try and get some recipes of wild edible plants on here from my older relatives.

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